Tennessee tops USA Softball's rankings for first time

OKLAHOMA CITY -- We're only one week into the 2007 season, but a lot of things changed in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll. For the first time in the history of the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll, Tennessee is the top-ranked team in college softball after opening its season with a 4-0 record. Senior Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) led the Volunteers to a successful weekend, tossing a no-hitter and recording 44 strikeouts in 17 innings of work.

The most impressive performance of the week came from the Texas A&M Aggies who moved from No. 14 to No. 3 in the latest poll. The Aggies stormed through its competition at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., collecting wins over four top 25 teams including three teams previously ranked in the top five.

A&M opened the Kajikawa Classic with a 4-3 win over No. 4 Northwestern and followed it with a 10-2 win over No. 20 Fresno State. On day two, the Aggies knocked off No. 3 UCLA, 5-4, and Utah 10-3 before closing out the tournament on Sunday with a 3-2 win over defending national champion and top-ranked Arizona.

Despite suffering two losses at the Kajikawa Classic, Arizona only dropped to No. 4 in this week's poll. Alabama and LSU moved into a tie at No. 5 after going undefeated in their opening weekend.

UCLA and Northwestern, who had previously been ranked No. 3 and No. 4 respectively, struggled at the Kajikawa Classic with identical 2-3 records but were able to hold on to a top 10 ranking. Northwestern slipped to No. 8 while UCLA fell to No. 9.

Texas proved it could still be a contender despite the loss of All-American Cat Osterman to graduation. The Longhorns finished the Kajikawa Classic with a 4-1 record that included wins over UCLA, 1-0, and Stanford, 7-6, to move up seven spots to No. 11 in the latest poll.

The Florida Gators entered the poll this week at No. 19 after a 4-1 start at the Kajikawa Classic that included wins over Oregon, 2-1, and Arizona, 3-1. It's the first time the Gators have been ranked in the Top 25 since April 18 of 2006.

South Florida and Louisville dropped out of the Top 25 while DePaul entered at No. 24 after winning the Paradise Classic in Honolulu with a 5-2 record.

Scarborough named Player of the Week
With a 5-0 record, Texas A&M junior pitcher Amanda Scarborough helped lead the Aggies to a top-five ranking in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll, the first in the program's history.

"This is a huge honor for me," said Scarborough. "It comes as a huge surprise because of the exceptional play of the rest of my teammates this weekend in Arizona. I give a lot of credit to my defense; they played solid and made big plays in pressure situations. Patti [Wunderlich] called a great game behind the plate, and I was able to hit my spots and get outs when we needed them. Our success was a definite team effort."

In the opening week of the season the junior right-hander was outstanding in the circle turning in a 3-0 record that included wins over three top-five teams including the defending national champions and top-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Against the Wildcats in the final game of the Kajikawa Classic, she struck out five, allowed only five hits and scored the tying run after hitting a double to reach base. She was equally impressive against No. 3 UCLA, allowing just one earned run while striking out four to lead the Aggies to a 5-4 win. Against No. 4 Northwestern, Scarborough walked the lead off batter to start the game but then proceeded to retire the next 11 consecutive batters on her way to a 4-3 victory.

In 21 innings of work, Scarborough allowed only three earned runs off 14 hits and collected 15 strikeouts. She also helped her cause at the plate going 5-for-17 with five runs scored and four RBI.

"Being named National Player of the Week is a great honor for Amanda and our program," said coach Jo Evans. "Amanda has worked very hard in the offseason to be a great leader on the mound and in the clubhouse. She got great support from her teammates this past weekend, and it is nice to see the hard work of Amanda and her teammates being recognized at the national level. Amanda has learned a lot by competing against the likes of Arizona and UCLA during her young career and she has made the adjustments necessary to go head to head with these teams and have success."

This is the second time Scarborough has been honored as the USA Softball Player of the Week. Her first honor came on March 29, 2005 during her freshman season.

Others receiving votes: Oregon (21), South Florida (14), Kansas (12), Georgia Tech (12), Iowa (11), Louisville (9), Wisconsin (9), Virginia Tech (7), Hawaii (7), Illinois State (5), Notre Dame (4), Southern Illinois (3), Penn State (3), Fullerton (1), UC Santa Barbara (1).

For more information, log on to the official site of USA Softball.